Windows are essential for all homes. Not only do they allow for cross ventilation throughout the home, but they also allow natural light to enter. Windows have evolved throughout the years, adding many different styles and sizes. As well, building codes have been written to include safety regulations pertaining to windows. Read on to learn more about egress windows, why you need them and what they mean for safety in your home.
What is an Egress Window?
An egress window, egress meaning to exit, became part of the international residential code to provide a safe exit in the event of an emergency. Egress windows can be described as a large opening that offers a secondary exit. They must be able to open from the inside easily with no tools, equipment, or prior knowledge of the window. It may vary on your location, but most egress windows are available in either sliding or casement style.
Where Should an Egress Window Be Installed?
Egress windows, as per the international residential code, must be installed in any room used for sleeping purposes (bedrooms on any floor) and in any basement that has habitable space (sleeping, living, and dining). In the event of an emergency (life-threatening), there needs to be a safe exit for any person to leave through. On the flip side, emergency personnel may have to enter through these windows.
Egress Window Requirements
The National Building Code of Canada has specific requirements for egress windows to meet:
- Minimum of 5% light to the room
- Adequate ventilation to the room
- Must be large enough to safely exit in the case of an emergency, without the use of tools, equipment, or prior knowledge of the windows mechanisms
- The window must have a total opening area of at least 3.77 square feet
While these standards are set countrywide, provinces and municipalities have the power to set more strict requirements. If you need to update your windows or want to know if they meet code, be sure to consult with a pro in your area.
It is also important to note that there is a difference between basement egress windows and bedroom egress window requirements. Basement egress windows will typically be placed higher than 1.5 meters (to be able to reach ground level). It is recommended to have either a step or ladder built below to allow for an easy exit. Further, if the window opens into a window well, an adequate amount of space to open the window is required. This will allow room to escape if needed. If the window well is deep, stairs or a ladder may also be required to exit safely.
Egress windows are meant to ensure safety within your home. If you know your windows are not to code, or you are thinking about updating your windows, be sure to consult with a pro. Let HomeStars connect you with a pro in your area to ensure that all code requirements are met and your family is kept safe during an emergency situation.